Bagels!


I currently have a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, which is an absolutely incredible book if you're interested in bread baking. As I was flipping through, bagels caught my eye.

I eat a bagel almost every day, and on some days more than one bagel. They are a staple in my diet and have been for a long time. My wife and daughter also like them and go so far as to make sandwiches out of them for lunch. We have Target, Panera Bread, and even an Einstein Bagels opened recently, but all of these places have way over-priced products. So, I'm pretty much stuck eating frozen Lender's bagels out of the grocery store. They're okay...I like them better than Sara Lee or Earth Grain Mills or whatever the hell it's called. But no more! Although it takes a little time, this recipe is incredibly easy and the bagels turned out amazing.

Day 1

We start with a sponge. I like breads that start with sponges. It makes me feel like my kitchen is a bizarre lab out of a bad sci-fi movie. I like the smell, too, when you lift the plastic. The sponge is a tsp of yeast with 4 cups of bread flour and 2 1/2 cups of room temp water. Mix it up and let it do its thing for a couple of hours.

After 2 hours, add another 1/2 tsp of yeast, 2 3/4 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of malt powder (or 1 T of malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar), and then add 3 3/4 cups of bread flour, a 1/2 cup at a time. As an aside - you may want to sift the salt into one of those cups of flour so as not to burn your yeast.

This dough mixture got to be too big for my Kitchen-aid mixer. After the ingredients were well incorporated (which required a little hand-kneading) I divided the dough in half and used the mixer to knead each dough half for about 5-8 minutes per half. After both halves were kneaded and combined the two halves back together by kneading them a little by hand.

Once the kneading is finished, cut 4 1/2 oz pieces of dough off and to make dough balls. Cover them with a towel and let them rest for about twenty minutes. After twenty minutes you can shape your dough balls into bagels by simply using your fingers to poke a whole in the center and use your fingers to shape and smooth into a bagel shape. Place the bagels on baking sheets covered with parchment and lightly greased with cooking spray (you should have 2 sheets of about 6-7 bagels each). Lightly spray the tops of the bagels with cooking spray and cover them with plastic wrap. Let the pans rest for about 20 minutes or so. By testing one of the bagels you'll know when they'll be ready for the refrigerator - take one bagel and drop it in a bowl of room temp water. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds, they're ready for the fridge. Refrigerate over night.

Day 2
This is the easy and fun part. Preheat your oven to 500. At the same time get a large pot of boiling water going (I used a dutch oven). It doesn't have to necessarily be deep - enough to fully submerge a bagel. You could use a saucepan if you have nothing else. It may just take a little longer to cook them all.

When your water is boiling, drop a T of baking soda in the water and give it a chance to dissolve and mix. When you're ready, drop a bagel in the water - drop as many as will fit, proceeding slowly so your water temp recovers between bagel drops. Boil each bagel for 1 minute before flipping, then boil for 1 more minute. Place finished bagels on a baking sheet lined with parchment and lightly sprinkled with each cornmeal or semolina flour. Sprinkle with preferred topping such as salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic or onion, etc.

Bake both sheets at 500 for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes move the top sheet to the bottom and the bottom sheet to the top and rotate both 180 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes or so until golden brown. When you pull them out of the oven, let them rest for about 10-15 minutes.

These came out much better than I had anticipated. Honestly, I thought I would be making my blog post today about what I would do different next time. I think the only thing I can say about improvement is that my technique will get better the more I make them, and I look forward to trying some new toppings.

They were a little doughy at first because I didn't let them rest long enough. After a couple of hours they "bageled up" and are better than anything I've had from Einstein or Panera. I'm so happy that I can now have the best bagels for breakfast every day with only a little bit of work once or twice a week.


4 comments:

  1. This looks great! Funny, just yesterday I was pondering making my own bagels while picking up a dozen @ the bakery in the Giant. Seeing it like this makes it look like lots of fun. I'd be interested to see how these take freezing.

    When I was in high school, I took an SAT prep class and during break time they brought in a few paper bags of bagels from a local bakery. They were amazing. My favorite was a salt bagel, which I've yet to have since. I might have to give this a shot and try for some of those and my ol' fav, sesame seed. Thanks for the post!

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  2. These were yum yum yummy! Sesame & salt together is a nice topping. I think next time I'll ask the noOb to toast the sesame seeds and I think also I might recommend sprinkling them on literally the second they come out of the water so the seeds stick better.

    Would love to hear how yours come out Sluggy! :)

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  3. If you have any questions about the recipe please let me know - what I've written here is highly abridged from the full 12 page version.

    While the recipe is complete I did leave out some of the fine details.

    I hope you give it a shot and have fun! It's always rewarding even if it doesn't come out perfect. :)

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  4. Looks great, bagels were a staple every Sunday morning for me when I was a kid so will defo give these a go when I get a chance.

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